Update: Politifact changed their rating of the President’s statments on jobs from “half” to “mostly” true.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our original Half True rating was based on an interpretation that Obama was crediting his policies for the jobs increase. But we’ve concluded that he was not making that linkage as strongly as we initially believed and have decided to change the ruling to Mostly True.
That said, the rest of my post is still mostly true.
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Jared Bernstein expresses his disappointment with Politifact’s lame reasoning for giving President Obama a “half-true” rating on his statements that “In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs.”, and “Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.”
Mr. Bernstein says:
This is not half true or two-thirds true. It is just true.
So why, I ask you, why do they go where they go? Because of this:
In his remarks, Obama described the damage to the economy, including losing millions of jobs “before our policies were in full effect.” Then he described [sic!] the subsequent job increases, essentially taking credit for the job growth. But labor economists tell us that no mayor or governor or president deserves all the claim or all the credit for changes in employment.
Really? That’s it? That makes the fact not a fact? I’ve seen some very useful work by these folks, but between this and this, Politifact just can’t be trusted. Full stop.
Politifact seems to use “half-true” most of the times a politician makes claims about jobs, based on that advise from their “labor economists”. That’s a pretty weak policy, but at least it’s fair. Politifact would be even more fair if they simply used “half true” for everything.
When Romney said “More Americans have lost their jobs under Barack Obama than any president in modern history.”, they rated it as mostly false. It should have been pants on fire. Romney compared Obama’s unfinished term against previous presidents’ final tallies. If you use a fair measurement, by their own words:
So by this measurement, Obama doesn’t have a net loss of jobs at all — in fact, the only president who does is George W. Bush.
Additionally, Romney counts jobs losses that Obama can’t be responsible for, in the beginning of his term before his policies took effect. I don’t think “mostly false” covers it.
But Politifact has policy of aiming for the middle whenever a politician makes a claim about jobs.
So what good are they?